Los Angeles duo The Habits just released their new video clip for “Don’t Need a Hero,” a rousing good time of a video, featuring them rocking the song out and then some. Joining together the talents of singer and guitarist Wolf Bradley and drummer Andrew Macatrao, they specialize in delivering some delectable melodies that will remain with you long after the songs have ended. Lyrically, they’re not as optimistic, with stories of love and loss and all that comes in between them.
Bradley and Macatrao have been friends for a long time, residing in the San Pedro neighbourhood of LA. As they grew together, so did their musical tastes, with the guys sharing an affinity for danceable alternative rock and pop like Maroon 5 and Cage The Elephant. They’ve become well known within their hometown, as they have literally played virtually every bar, club, basement, and even accessible alleyway.
Joining us today for a very special guest blog is Wolf Bradley himself. He recounts for us the story of the unique way in which “Don’t Need a Hero” was written over Zoom during the pandemic-related lockdowns and how despite the conceived limitations of collaborating virtually, it turned out to be one of the most productive writing sessions he has ever had.
Being Vulnerable Over Zoom:
I remember playing my guitar to heal my pandemic blues when I got a call from Fish. We were on our second lockdown of 2020 and I was not doing well. It was around the time that everyone collectively realized that this nightmare had no real end in sight. That was a heavy blow no matter who you are or what you did. I had used the time the pandemic had given me as best as I could. The band had made a couple music videos, written a plethora of songs, and thought of a marketing strategy for our newly released EP, What’s The Worst That Could Happen?.
Personally, I had become reflective and introspective and was ‘working’ on myself in a big way. I wanted to come out of this time period a new and improved Wolf Bradley. The thing is, when you’re as neurotic as I am and stuck in a constant state of over-analysis for an indefinite amount of time, it becomes more detrimental than helpful. I was spending too much time in my head and I was picking every piece of me apart. I was breaking myself down under the guise of self-care.
Then the phone rang. It’s always nice to hear from Fish. He’s a DJ for idobi Radio and just the nicest guy in the industry. He tells me, ‘Dave Rublin of American Authors loves your music and would like to connect with you. Is it cool if I give him your number?’ Is it cool?!?! Of course, it’s fucking cool! I appreciate him asking first, but YES definitely!
So, Dave and I go back and forth for a little over text and email. He asked me about my experience in the music business thus far and, as I often do in conversation and songwriting, I was spilling my heart out and oversharing with every word. Dave, who I instantly clicked with, was all for it. We have very similar tendencies and thought processes. We made a date to write a song. Just to see what comes out of it. He was living in New York at the time, and Andrew and I in San Pedro. It was the new craze sweeping the nation, a Zoom Meeting.
I had written a few songs over Zoom with our main collaborator/producer Ben Cassorla, but we had known each other for years so there was no awkwardness over Zoom. But seeing someone for the first time through a computer screen can get a little weird and uncomfortable. And then the goal is to write a song and be vulnerable? That’s a lot. Luckily, there were no dry moments of acclamation on me, Andrew, or Dave’s part. We jumped right in as if we had been friends for a long time.
The song started with a riff I was playing on the acoustic guitar. It was a chugging, two chords, old school Green Day type riff, that I was just playing offhandedly. Dave’s ears perked up and we were in it. It morphed and changed organically and before we knew it, we had a verse. The three of us were discussing what our mental state has been like at the time and we were all generally on the same page. We wanted to break out of this cycle of self-doubt and insecurity. We wanted to be the hero of our own stories and we wanted everyone listening to feel like the hero of theirs.
The pre-chorus lyrics ‘all these missiles living in my mind,’ is one of my favourites in the song because that’s honest imagery of what we were feeling. Just bombs dropping on our mental health and a lot of times, by our own thinking. Then the chorus came out so naturally. When we got the lines ‘I don’t need a hero, I can save myself babe,’ we knew we had something special and unique. It’s the exact message we wanted and throwing the ‘babe’ in there made it a little cheeky and self-aware, which is very important to me. We are a band that thrives on authenticity, and Dave understood that and just wanted to elevate us rather than dictate what he thought we should be singing about. That’s the sign of a great collaborator.
All in all, we wrote the first two verses, pre-choruses, and the chorus in maybe a half-hour or less. It was quick. So quick that it didn’t feel real. Dave had a meeting to get to so we adjourned for the day. A little while later we hopped on zoom again to finish the song that we were already completely sold on. It was important to us to have a great bridge. I’m a huge fan of bridges. Throw something wacky in there. Make the listener want to play the song over again just so they can get that little difference in the middle there. We went off the deep end with this bridge. We slowed down the tempo. Threw in a uke. Blasted some 800s. It comes out of far left field.
I think the bridge are the most uniquely ‘the habits’ lyrics out of almost all of our songs. We are huge fans of catchy melodies and song structure, but we also want to sing things that we feel only we can get away with. We love writing songs that, if another artist tried to, it could be weird and out of place. This bridge feels wholly us.
With all the parts written, Dave produced the hell out of it. It was hard because we were never in the same room and on two different sides of the country, but sometimes limitations breed great results. This was one of those times. I recorded vocals on my cheap home microphone, and Dave made them sound like I sang them into a Manley at Abbey Road. Writing this song was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a session. Sometimes it just… works.”